Joe Does the Movies: Accessible movie reviews in Toronto

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Seen: 2002.11.20   ¶   Reviewed: 2002.11.24

You see 22 movies. What do you get? Another year older, etc.

We began this odyssey a year ago with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (WGBH, note well the title). I have for some time discreetly claimed and will now make the outright claim that no one has seen more movies with captions and/or descriptions than I have. I’ve also seen more movies with captions and descriptions than, I should expect, everyone else in the world put together.

I have more experience with the WGBH MoPix system than anyone. So I naturally object when people like the British say it doesn’t work (but the British are not committed to equality), or when the Coalition for Movie Captioning comes along and implies that MoPix should be discouraged because you ain’t got nowhere to put your Diet Coke.

The system works, and I am old enough to remember when cinemas did not have drinkholders. So take that.

WGBH has made a surprisingly large number of errors in captioning and audio description over the last year. You’d think they’d be a bit more careful to catch them: The one person whom WGBH management likes, respects, and tolerates the least is publicly policing them.

I handed WGBH a new client on a platter when I yentaed the MoPixing of Austin Powers. Other than that, it’s been one frustration after another in improving cinema accessibility. No, you haven’t heard the details, nor will you – not until I have some good news to report.

Further, the day is going to come when captions are produced by WGBH (because they have a patent on the Rear Window display and can presumably make that patent stick) but descriptions come from someone else. To paraphrase the Oracle in The Matrix, won’t that bake your cookies?

Anyway, on Tuesday I had planned to schlep to Harry Potter. But I didn’t have my Big Card, and the movie isn’t worth $13 or however much the admission price is. So I went on Wednesday, at which point a playa told me that they’d had 17 deaf people in the night before. A school visit of some sort, apparently.

Now, how would that have gone, I wonder?

Caption quality

Isn’t “floo” powder (of the sort found just above the hearth of a fireplace) in fact flue powder?

Oy! What do you two think you’re doing!: A signal error, and quite shameful. They’re Brits, not Jews. (It’s Oi!)

"Witch Weekly’s" Most Desirable Award: Here we go again with the inopportune consequences of having no italics. It’s better not to even bother with quotation marks specifically because of the question “What do you do with the possessive?”

Those are Nimbus 2001's!: Apostrophe-s is not a plural marker in English.

But Hermione, if Malfoy is the heir of Slytherin: Vocatives require a comma before name of addressee. It’s never optional under any circumstances; it’s not like comma in serial and.

And she tried to dispose of it in the girl's bathroom: Plural, please.

Description quality

It’s Miles Neff again. Thank heavens! What if it were Andre Ware?

Right at show opening, we are told that Harry sits in his room. We already know who Harry is. (You could do the same with any famous character, like Indiana Jones or Jean-Luc Picard.)

I wonder why Miles cannot pronounce “Hermione” as a four-syllable word, which it is, rather than with three syllables.

“Malfoy enters and stares coldly”: No, it’s Mr. Malfoy (as he had been described before) or Lucius Malfoy, not Draco Malfoy, the little Christer.

Much overuse of WGBH-typical verbs: gape times three, sneer times at least four, snarl times two.


I liked this one:

It was a wand, if memory serves.

Exit interview


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